LA Knight is a testament to getting over organically with fans in the WWE.
Last October, Max Dupri of the Maximum Male Models made his intentions clear to leave the group as their manager and change his name back to LA Knight. This may have been the move that saved his career.
LA Knight quickly won over fans just like he did in NXT, even though he was being booked as a heel by creative. The main way he did that was by using his signature “YEAH” catchphrase, a method that has been used for years but worked once again.
Even though losses to superstars like Xavier Woods and Bray Wyatt, fans began to see that Knight was worthy of at least being in the mid-card title scene. Oozing charisma through the screen every time he got an opportunity with a microphone in his hand was the key to the 40-year-olds’ recent rise up the ranks.
Many stars at the beginning of their WWE careers, got the same minuscule amount of time LA Knight did to prove themselves, but sank quickly rather than swam their way into the big leagues. Very few had the magnetism to create a connection with fans like Knight did.
The pivotal moment in proving LA Knight belonged on the main roster as a big-time talent was his feud with Bray Wyatt heading into their Royal Rumble match. What may have started as a tune-up feud for Wyatt in his WWE return, was stretched out by Knight week after week giving Wyatt a solid challenger on the microphone.
His corny yet very effective heel work soon started the bond with fans. One of those instances was Knight dressing up as Wyatt the night before their match at the Royal Rumble. A tactic used years ago in the Jeff Hardy vs CM Punk feud, to immediately get heat for the heel, worked once again.
One of the better quotes from that Knight promo was directed at Wyatt, “This is your future, torn up, laid out, because when the Alamo dome goes pitch black, your dumpy a** ain’t coming back”.
Knight used an innovative way to make his message clear by using a rhyme in his promo, which probably got a good chuckle out of most fans. That is when the line was cast, and ever since then Knight continued to hook us in with his charismatic and witty personality to get over organically.
He used the same methods promotions around the globe have used for decades, but this feels like the first time someone has gotten very over in WWE without being forced on the fans, in the better part of the last decade.
The recipe is quite simple really, have a major identifying characteristic, like Knight’s super over “YEAH” catchphrase, and use funny lines that can be recognized by fans of all ages to establish a connection that cannot be denied by the creative team backstage. That is how Knight got over, and many others before him.
Now, Knight is almost as undeniable as stars get in WWE because he honestly didn’t do much different than stick to the script when it comes to creating a star like the Rock or ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. Of course, the natural ability has to be there, but superstars have to create magic out of the hand they are dealt and when Knight was given quite possibly the worst cards there is as Max Dupri, he made a rather significant something out of nothing.